By: Steve Navaroli, Thursday, March 7, 2019, TRIB-LIVE
LEWISBERRY — Fox Chapel did everything it could have done defensively against one of the top teams in the state during Friday’s PIAA Class 6A girls basketball tournament opener.
Unfortunately for the Foxes, finding offense was a struggle.
Perhaps if another 3-pointer had fallen at the right time. Perhaps if an offensive rebound hadn’t extended an Eagles’ possession, things might have been different.
The game was close, but it wasn’t to be as Fox Chapel’s season concluded with a 35-27 loss to Cumberland Valley at Red Land High School.
The Foxes made the District 3 champions work for everything. Cumberland Valley had no players reach double figures and star Julie Jekot, a Division I recruit, was held to only six points.
“This has been a problem in the past, scoring,” Foxes coach Jennifer O’Shea said after the campaign ended with a 15-9 record. “We do play good defense.
“Domenica (Delaney) has been doing a good job with that all year, shutting down the best player. Defense was fine, it was just a bad shooting night. We had chances.”
But even as the Eagles’ shooting was far off the pace that led to their 23-4 record this season, they crashed the boards for 13 offensive rebounds — 41 total for the game.
Still, Fox Chapel battled.
Down 11-6 early in the second quarter, the Foxes took a 14-13 lead on Delaney’s 3-pointer with 2:26 left in the half.
Although the lead was short lived, the message was clear that Fox Chapel was not going away.
Cumberland Valley scored 11 straight points, including the first nine of the third quarter, but Megan Friday hit layups on back-to-back possessions and Delaney’s trey cut the gap to 24-21.
Elizabeth Schwartzman opened the fourth quarter with a free throw, bringing Fox Chapel within 26-22.
However, Linda Leitzel answered with a 3-pointer for the Eagles, who scored nine straight, including the killer possession when they grabbed three consecutive offensive boards, capped by two Jekot free throws.
“We talk about turning points all the time, where you don’t get a rebound or a loose ball,” O’Shea said. “Hustle plays, especially in a foreign territory you’ve got to win the hustle plays.”
Delaney led all scorers with 13 points and blocked six shots to go along with a team-high nine rebounds.
O’Shea knows that going from two section wins a season ago to the PIAA tournament is quite the accomplishment, making the 205-mile bus trip to York County worthwhile.
“We talk about the process. We are heading in the right direction,” she said. “After two section wins last year, we are very proud of our group.”